Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of 9/11 and David Cameron is due to make a major speech on foreign and security policy. In last week's Telegraph, Rachel Sylvester wrote that the Tory leader "has done more work on this speech than any other he has made." Mr Cameron will make the speech at lunchtime tomorrow - coinciding with the time that New York and Washington were attacked five years ago.
The speech may appear in the first editions of tomorrow's newspapers. These are the things I hope Mr Cameron's speech will communicate:
(1) Britain is at war and western civilisation is in danger. The threat posed by Islamic fascists could hardly be more serious. Peggy Noonan understood the danger eight years ago. The world has always been populated by evil men, she wrote, but it is the availability of devastating but portable weaponry that is the 'big new thing'.
(2) Iran must be stopped from becoming a nuclear power. George W Bush has recently compared the Iranian President to Adolf Hitler. It's far from a perfect analogy but, as Jonah Goldberg has pointed out, it doesn't need to be: "Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria recently penned a thoughtful essay debunking the 1938 analogy. Iran is an economic and military weakling compared to the Teutonic juggernaut of the Third Reich. Inflating Ahmadinejad into Hitler stretches the analogy to the breaking point. Fair enough, but Ahmadinejad has options Hitler didn’t. Der Fuehrer needed a strong economy and an enormous military to accomplish his objectives. Thanks to things such as nuclear and (soon) biological weapons, second-rate powers like Iran, as well as basket cases like North Korea and modern-day Thugees like bin Laden, can quickly attain the destructive power Hitler only dreamed of. As science proceeds, we can be sure this reality will loom ever more frightening."
(3) Retreat from Afghanistan and Iraq is inconceivable. Whatever the rights and wrongs of both wars we cannot abandon the people of these emerging democracies to the terrorists. We must stand with the Afghan and Iraq armies until they are strong enough to keep their own countries safe. Bush and Blair never deployed enough troops in either country. Bigger deployments in both theatres, from the earliest stages might - as John McCain and Iain Duncan Smith have argued - have meant that troops could have returned home earlier. When McCain addresses the Tory Conference in October I hope he'll repeat this earlier message of his:
"Withdrawing before there is a stable and legitimate Iraqi authority would turn Iraq into a failed state, in the heart of the Middle East. We have seen a failed state emerge after U.S. disengagement once before, and it cost us terribly. In pre-9/11 Afghanistan, terrorists found sanctuary to train and plan attacks with impunity... We cannot make this fatal mistake twice."
(4) Our armed forces must be larger, better paid and much better equipped. For all of New Labour's talk of a changed post-9/11 world, Britain's armed forces are over-stretched and are poorly-equipped. Gordon Brown deserves the lion's share of the blame for that. Conservatives must make it clear that the number one priority for public expenditure must be national defence. Britain's troops must always get the resources they need.
(5) The UN cannot be relied upon for the defence of Britain. In these dark days for Darfur when the UN's failure is so clear, there must be no talk of putting Kofi Annan's New York bureaucracy at the forefront of the war on terror. As I've written before: "Britain doesn't need a Prime Minister who wastes years trying to reform the UN but finds his efforts 'unreasonably vetoed' by Beijing, Paris or Moscow. We need a leader who understands that the world is at war and forms all necessary 'coalitions of the willing' to win that war. That is why David Cameron is right to be forging new relationships with Delhi and Tokyo (and why he must not shun Washington, Canberra or Ottawa)."
(6) We must pre-empt threats. Because of the devastating nature of the portable weaponry at the disposal of terrorists we cannot wait to be attacked. We must pre-empt threats by the deployment of so-called soft power, greater investment in the intelligence services and, where necessary, with military action. Noone defined pre-emption better than Winston Churchill: "You must never fire until you've been shot dead? That seems to be a silly thing to say."
(7) Missile defence must be prioritised again. Missile defence systems will not defend us from the 'suitcase bomb' but they might help defend us from a nuclear-armed Iran or North Korea. Mark Pritchard MP has been right to keep this issue alive: "Only a few years ago the successful development of a workable Ballistic Missile Defence Shield which could successfully detect, track, and intercept enemy missiles was dismissed by military chiefs, on both sides of the Atlantic, as unachievable. American military scientists have proved the critics wrong - overcoming the technical hurdles which produced those initial doubts. The British government must now decide whether it wishes to protect Britain from a recognised and documented threat and take part in the American Ballistic Missile Defence Shield – on equal terms?"
(8) Foreign policy must be ethical. Britain must be as compassionate as it is strong. British foreign policy should be promoting human rights around the world, sharing clean growth-technologies and unilaterally dismantling the protectionism that limits the economic opportunities of the world's poorest countries. We cannot stand aside from tragedies like Darfur. See Nicholas Kristof in today's New York Times on 'Why Genocide Matters.'
(9) We must stand with Israel. Israel is in the frontline of the war on terror. If we allow Israel to be weakened then all western democracies are vulnerable. See IDS on Israel.
(10) Conservatives will protect the homeland. David Cameron had downplayed this topic until the recent foiled terror plot but protection of the public is now rightly near the top of the Tory agenda. In his recent remarks he emphasised greater funding of domestic security services; the admission of intercept evidence in court; the appointment of a single minister committed to homeland security efforts; a dedicated borders police; and less tolerance of Islamic extremism within Britain. The party must continue to emphasise these themes.
The Conservative Party has, in recent times, looked a little too willing to allow Tony Blair to single-handedly justify Britain's role in Iraq and more generally at America's side. The Bush-Blair alliance has made far too many mistakes in the last five years but the Conservative Party must be on the side of those who know that the war did not start with the invasion of Iraq. It started with the terrorist attacks that culminated on 9/11.